Each year, around October, you ask me what I want for my birthday. Then, in December, you ask me what I want for Christmas. As the years pass, I think less of gifts that can be bought. If I have to be honest, I want more days with you, mom.
I want to go back to the tea parties, when you happily drank water in very sophisticated, plastic, tea cups. Those were private and intimate moments, for us to talk and share things about each other. You were a good actress, pretending to be burnt by the heat of the tea. You still are a great actress, pretending you don’t feel tired. You carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You told me that the weight you carry was carried by your mother, and her mother before her.
But I can never be like you: Selfless, kind, strong. If I ever carried that weight, my back would cave in.
I want to go back to when I was eight years old, and being the youngest child of much older siblings, I felt alone. So I told you I wanted a little sister. And you made me one, stitch by stitch, out of felt and cotton balls. But it fell apart when I tried to hold it. You had me late in life, you were in your 40s, and a part of me resented you for not being able to run and play with me, as I so badly wanted to do with you. Resigned, you held me as I cried, because felt and cotton wasn’t enough. I never told you this then, but it was you I wanted.
The doll wasn’t enough.
I want to go back to each fight and stop myself for everything I said that was drenched in anger and doused the walls in tension and caused you to cry yourself to sleep. I pay my penance for those days when I worry about your health. I pretend I still need you because I know you want to feel valued.
So I let my hair get unruly until you tell me to get a trim. I burn myself cooking to have you come and correct me. I cut fruit badly. I cut myself badly. I bleed all over the counter; you clean it up. And even though things got so bad, mom, you were always there. I have counted our blessings but only found negative bank statements. You are my silver lining. I pretend I still sleep because I want you to sleep at night.
I want to have you with me for as long as I live, mom. But I am getting older, and you are too. You tell me, “I’ll be with you as long as I live.” I just cry, because it isn’t enough.